WSIRN Ep 179: Life is short & my TBR is way too long

Alabama reader Shannan Malone has broad taste and high standards, and when it comes to new releases, even authors she’s loved in the past don’t get a free pass… the new book has to earn her love. So today’s episode goes out to all you eclectic readers who love hopping between genres.

We’re covering  the struggle of pinpointing what you dislike about a book that everyone else thinks is amazing, awkward characters for the introverted reader, Shannon’s book club that connects moms near and far through literature, and of course much, much more.

Let’s get to it!

What Should I Read Next #179: Life is short & my TBR is way too long with Shannan Malone

Check out Shannan Malone’s blog, and follow her on Instagram @shannanenjoyslife.

Click here to read the full episode transcription (opens in a new tab).

Books mentioned in this episode:

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Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon
What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
The Lost Book of the Grail, by Charlie Lovett
The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession, by Charlie Lovett
The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson
Gods in Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson
Circe, by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
The Odyssey, by Homer (translated by Emily Wilson)
The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón 
The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry, by Gabrielle Zevin
The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions, by Emily P. Freeman
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondō
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, by Marie Kondō
The Ensemble, by Aja Gabel
Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Mother-in-Law, by Sally Hepworth
Calling Me Home, by Julie Kibler
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, by Balli Kaur Jaswal
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, by Balli Kaur Jaswal

What do you think Shannan should read next? Let us know in the comments!


Leave A Comment
  1. Emily C says:

    For Shannan, I would suggest Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. It just came out last week and is non-fiction/memoir that is full of good story. Gottlieb is a therapist in California who had to seek out her own therapy to deal with a tough breakup. She also worked in Hollywood, produced shows like ER, went to med school, and writes for The Atlantic. The book chronicles her post-breakup breakdown, but is really an insightful glimpse of the commonality of human nature (and why we probably all should see a therapist once in a while!)
    I loved this episode, and saw a lot of myself in Shannan’s reading and picks. I’ve never read anything by Charlie Lovett but just put both of those books on my TBR list.

    • I have heard of “Maybe You Should I Talk to Someone” and am definitely going to add it to my TBR now. Thank you for the recommendation. And by all means, check out Charlie Lovett. And let me know what you think of him.

      • Debbie Ball says:

        So excited to hear u as I live inMadison near u! Just finished The Library Book bubble Susan Orlean which was nonfiction but very good for another”book man”. Would love to connect w u as I like almost everything u suggested

  2. Sarah J Askins says:

    I totally understand the need to know what is going to happen at the end of the book. My teacher read “Where the Red Fern Grows” out loud to us in the fourth grade, and I am still traumatized. To this day, I refuse to read any book that features an animal because I just know the animal will die. I can totally read books about people dying, but not animals….EVER.
    If I were you, I would read “Tangerine” which is set in 1950’s Tangier, Morocco. I loved the atmosphere and the characters. Another would be “Above the Waterfall” by Ron Rash. I love his sense of place in western North Carolina, and he uses two characters to tell the story. It is one of my favorite books.

    • Wasn’t “Tangerine” on the MMD Summer Reading Guide last year? I think it was on my TBR then but I didn’t get to it. Reprioritizing it now. I will also look into “Above the Waterfall”. And I believe I can read these without being traumatized? LOL. Thanks for the recommendations.

  3. Erin says:

    i’m not a podcast listener. but i tell you this: i am going to listen to this podcast for the first time ever just because i so strongly identified with the quote about reading the last chapter! i do that too! but i never tell people, because they shame me for it. but i worry so much for my book friends! i can’t take the anxiety of not knowing if they will make it- much less make it happily! audiobooks have pushed me to deal with the tension, but with print books, i check.

    • Wow, Erin! Thank you! I hope that you enjoy it. I almost didn’t confess to reading the last chapter of the book because, like you, I’ve gotten teased about it. But it must be done. Especially when things start getting hairy for the characters. Thank you for commenting and thank you for listening. I hope you aren’t disappointed.

  4. Julie Turner says:

    This was such a fun episode! I can relate to Shannan and her “ecclectic” reading style so I’m excited to have a few new books for my TBR. The storytelling with non-fiction was a lightbulb moment for me!

  5. Holli Petersen says:

    I loved this episode and as a former Huntsville resident, I will be tuning in to the Rocket City Book Club!!

    I’m SO pumped for The Mother-in-Law… so much so that I preordered it. I have often thought that mother-in-laws aren’t addressed enough in fiction. It’s such a complex, multi-layered relationship that I think it would be a fascinating subject. Anyone have any other mother-in-law book recs?

    Since Shannan is such a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I’m going to recommend Unmarriageable by Semah Kamal. There were some parts where I had to majorly roll my eyes and the very on-the-nose names of the characters were a little cringe-worthy… BUT it was fascinating to realize that the very themes that took place during the times of Jane Austen can still be found today. You might enjoy it!

    • We are looking forward to having you at the book club. I think Mother-in-Law will be an excellent pick. I will have to look at Unmarriageable. How did you like Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Eligible”? I enjoyed reading it. Is it comparable?

  6. Susan in TX says:

    I’ll second Holli’s recommendation of Unmarriageable and also put in a plug for another P&P retelling, Pride by Ibi Zaboi – set in modern day Brooklyn. 🙂
    Loved this episode! Shannan, fellow Enneagram 6 and eclectic reader here – and also fellow hater of The Shadow of the Wind. The book lover in you would probably also like Pamela Paul’s My Life With Bob if you haven’t already read it – memoir based on decades of keeping track of the books she read.
    Happy reading to you!

  7. Katherine says:

    Hi Shannon!
    Loved your episode! I love the idea of your book club. Since you loved “Circe,” especially the retelling of Circe’s story in her own words, I think you would also like “The Girls” by Pat Barker and “The Penelopiad” by Margaret Atwood. “The Girls” tells the story of Briseis, the Trojan princess captured when her city fell to the Greeks and given to Achilles. “The Penelopiad” is a fantastic novella of Odysseus’s wife Penelope, told through her eyes. Motherhood is a strong theme there. And Margaret Atwood is an amazing and talented storyteller.

    • Oooh, both of these sound good. I haven’t read anything by Margaret Atwood but everyone says she is a great storyteller. And “The Girls” is on my TBR. Time to make if priority. Thank you for the recommendations.

  8. Kate says:

    I have been trying to figure out if I am an enneagram 1 or 6, and after listening to Shannan I think I must be a 6 😊. I related to so much of what she said and smiled the whole podcast!

  9. Marla Jensen says:

    If your book club hasn’t read Becoming by Michelle Obama I think it would be a great pick. A lot of themes of parenting and motherhood. Her own parents unique way of raising her and her brother and then her own experience parenting in the White House. It is all so fascinating.

  10. Angela says:

    Great episode! Quiet by Susan Cain is also one of my all-time favorite books. It made me finally feel normal and made me proudly own being an introvert. By the way, I also often skip to the end of a book to read the last few pages, but I usually do it when I about halfway through reading it. Some book recommendations for books that are fun, plot-driven, and not too long: The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan and The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen. Actually all of Sarah Addison Allen’s books fall into that category with a bonus of being set in the South. I also love The Peach Keeper and The Sugar Queen that she wrote.

    • Ellen W says:

      Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors and I am always trying to get more people to read her books. When I lived away from the South, her books helped me when I felt homesick.

  11. Shannan, Great episode! I often read the ends of books as well. Surprisingly, it helps me enjoy the book even more. Spoilers don’t bother me either, and I love superhero and action movies among other genres. Watching movies and mini-series is often how I get ideas for books to add to my TBR list.

    Have you read any Brené Brown’s work? She studies vulnerability, but she tells stories to illustrate what she’s discovered in her research.

    For fiction, since you like retelling of myths, you may like Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy. They are based on Eastern European tales, as is Naomi Novik’s new set of works beginning with Uprooted. Both authors retell the stories using women protagonists. I have loved the one’s I’ve read so far. Happy reading!

    • A lot of people have confessed to reading the end before continuing. I guess I am not as strange as I thought. LOL. Thank you for the recommendations. I LOVE Brene Brown. She has a show coming out on Netflix that I am looking forward to. I’m glad that you enjoyed the episode.

  12. Jess says:

    Shannan, it felt like I was meeting a kindred spirit when I heard you talk! I too like to read the end of a book to be sure everything is going to come out OK. I too love spoiler alerts so I can be prepared before a movie. No one seems to understand my need to do these things. Thank you for giving me that wonderful moment of knowing I’m not alone! You brought joy to my morning. Thank you!

    • Jess, your comment has brought joy to my day! Thank YOU! I was debating whether to put those particular quirks out into the world but I want to be an authentic person, it is a personal commandment, so I had to. LOL. If you’re curious about personal commandments, check out “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. She also has a podcast as well. Thank you for telling me. Enjoy your day.

  13. Marie says:

    Hi Shannon, your personality is infectious – loved this interview! Regarding “Little Women,” my now 13-year-old daughter still has not forgiven me from a few years back, we watched the 1940s film version of it with Judy Garland, because I mistakenly remembered that Beth recovers in this version. This is what I told her as the movie progressed and… of course, I was so, so wrong! And she swore never to read the book. Sigh.

    I consider myself an eclectic reader myself and thought of two books that I think would check some of your boxes. both have been around, so you might have read them. First, “Seabiscuit” – which was both a page turner and about people and a horse who are underdogs and discover their superpowers. I so loved this book, even though I am NOT a horse person. Second recommendation is “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttimie” which puts you in the point of view of a child on the spectrum solving a mystery – it’s a fun read that puts you in the mind of someone who sees the world differently from those around him in a delightful way. I think it would be good for your mom’s book club too.

    Once again, so fun to hear you on the podcast. Happy reading!

    • Thank you Marie. I appreciate your kind words and I am glad that you enjoyed the show.

      So sorry to hear about your daughter’s experience. I watched the movies after reading the story so I wasn’t surprised by Beth’s death. I can understand her feelings though.

      I sometimes struggle to read books that I have seen made into movies. I like to read the books first, and then watch the movie/shows. So I have seen the movie “Seabiscuit”. Have you seen it? Is it similar to the movie?

      I would look into “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”. Thank you for the recommendation.

  14. Lana says:

    I loved your episode. Dying to read The Mother-in-Law. If you haven’t read The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin you might add it to your list. I thought of that book while listening to your list of favorites.

  15. Marie says:

    Shannon – Just to say that I did see the movie of “Seabiscuit,” and think that the book is far superior. Like it is so often, the book really gets you inside the minds of the characters – including the horse.
    As for my daughter, she is just a sensitive soul. Even though she can watch some pretty grisly stuff, she was also heartbroken watching King Kong recently and realizing what was going to happen to the big guy. Guess that’s a good quality, though. 😀

  16. MeganC says:

    Oh my goodness, I loved this episode. Someone else mentioned Shannan being a kindred spirit, and I have to agree. I SO relate to the desire for escapist, plot-driven books. I definitely added Anne’s recommendations to my TBR list too.

    • Megan, thanks so much for commenting. I appreciate you commenting. It has been an amazing experience connecting with everyone. I invite you to reach out to me on social media. Would LOVE to talk books and reading with another kindred spirit. Let me know if you enjoy Anne’s picks.

  17. Ellen W says:

    I’ve read Calling Me Home within the past six months and enjoyed it. There were a few small unexpected twists within a sweet story.

  18. Beth says:

    Shannan, I enjoyed listening to your episode so much! We have similar reading tastes so I was excited to add about 8 new books to my TBR based on your episode. I think it was already recommended to you but I think you might like Unmarriageable, I had been reading a lot of intense winter books and I was highly entertained by it. I also just finished The Editor by Steven Rowley (I had read an interview with Taylor Jenkins Reid who recommended it). It was very entertaining, not what I was expecting and funny in a subtle way. I would almost miss the funny lines and have to go back and re-read to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Another good book I have thought about over the years and read twice is The Mothers by Brit Bennett. Hope that helps!

    • Beth, I will definitely have to check out “The Editor”. I have never heard of it. I have always loved Jackie O so it should be an interesting read. Thank you for the recommendation and thank you for listening. I’m so glad you enjoyed the episode.

  19. Courtney says:

    I just listened to this episode and loved it! Shannan’s enthusiasm is so contagious and she inspired me to read a The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up, which has been on my shelf for a few years! Some recommendations I had for Shannan are Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand, An Absolutley Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, and Educated by Tara Westover. Happy reading Shannan!

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